Garry Ricketts’ teammates at Magna’s body and chassis facility in Milton, Ontario, have heard his lilting soprano on the shop floor and during the Modatek Idol competitions, the division’s version of the American Idol television series.
Ricketts, a 16-year Magna veteran and an area leader, won the grand prize twice during Modatek Idol, for his rendition of Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler in 2017 and R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly in 2018. He performed before crowds of 1,500 during the division’s annual Christmas parties, with judging based on applause.
“Singing is like breathing to me,” said Ricketts, who grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, listening to reggae and rhythm & blues. “It’s something I love.”
He’s also sung in the choir at Bethel Gospel Tabernacle, and is a member of Madd Roots, a local singing group that has performed at festivals in Ontario. The band released a CD 10 years ago featuring songs, including Woman Don’t Leave Me and I’m Sorry, co- written by Ricketts.
Today, he is setting up a mini music studio in his basement, and turning his attention to a new audience – his six children and the 28 kids he and his wife Erin have fostered since 2017. The two have welcomed as many as five foster children, often victims of abuse and neglect, at a time into their home.
“We decided to become foster parents because we’re blessed and we wanted to find a way to give back,” Ricketts explained. “We try to develop relationships with the parents of the kids we foster. We tell them: ‘We are taking care of your children at a moment when you are trying to get yourself together.’ We see ourselves as the kids’ second parents.”
It’s not unusual for Ricketts and his wife to be called upon by local social-service agencies to foster some babies when they are just day-old newborns and abandoned by their mothers. The couple adopted one of those children, daughter Aarymah.
“She’s now three and she captures your heart,” Ricketts said. “She sings along with me.”
His busy life during the summer of 2021 includes renovating a farmhouse that his family moved into recently, supervising 44 teammates at Modatek, and fostering three children, including Arianna, who is 6-months- old.
“I was doing the dishes and Arianna was crying,” Ricketts recalled. “I started singing nursery rhymes and gospel songs. She stopped crying and started laughing. I had my audience right next to me. It was working for both of us.”